I’ve had a bucket list for ages. I think I started it before people were even calling it a bucket list. It includes things like learning new dances and drive cross-country. And in March, I got to cross one of the biggies off the list: 21 days in Australia and New Zealand.
How was it, you ask? How much time do you have? In short, the trip was AMAZING, AWESOME, FUN, EDUCATIONAL, RELAXING, EXCITING! Oh, and I found the most amazing opal…and it’s all mine!
Before I jump into the educational stuff, I thought I’d share some of the fun, non-gemstone-related activities, just because it makes me smile to remember it all.
Auckland, New Zealand at the top of the Sky Tower, I did a 45-minute sky walk on the 53rd floor on a 1-meter wide (that’s 39 inches) metal grate walkway with no railings.
Me, overcoming my fear of heights.
Fiordland National Park
Also in NZ. This was a boat ride through the Fiordland National Park, which is mountains that come right to the sea and waterfalls all over the place. Breathtaking!
Sydney Opera House
We saw a show (not an opera) at the Sydney Opera House. It was a modern version of Antony and Cleopatra. Very different, excellently produced, and I stayed awake for the whole thing!
One of many of the theatres in the Sydney Opera House
The Fringe Festival
In Adelaide, the Fringe Festival is several days of live performances and night time light shows. The changing pictures were projected onto many old buildings in downtown Adelaide. Here’s just one of them.
Gemstones from the Other Half of the World
Because of my love of all types of rocks, I can’t help but keep my eyes peeled for gemstones that are native to the area. My pre-trip research revealed that opal, chrysocolla, coral, agate, and kyanite come from Australia, and New Zealand Jade comes from, well, New Zealand (surprised?). Also from New Zealand are amethyst quartz, chalcedony, carnelian, garnet, rhodonite, and argillite.
The most common New Zealand gemstone is New Zealand jade, also known as greenstone or pounamu, which includes the mineral species nephrite and bowenite. It is beautiful when polished. It is often carved with intricate patterns, as one might expect see jade. I did not purchase one for myself…but this is a photo of one that I thought was especially pretty.
Chalcedony is also commonly found in New Zealand. It commonly has a waxy luster, and I usually see it in a pale aqua color. This one is a druzy quartz/chalcedony pendant, so it has some sparkle to it.
Garnet is another gemstone you’ll see a lot of if you visit New Zealand. The birthstone of January, the deep red is striking.
Argillite, while it can be found almost anywhere, is really quite common in New Zealand. It forms the “basement rock” of New Zealand. It’s actually a sedimentary rock and is a form of mudstone. I bought this while I was there. The shape that it’s carved in is their symbol for “new beginnings”.
Chrysocolla is one of those gemstones I really love to work with, so it was familiar when we arrived in Australia and I saw them. These are just a few of the chrysocolla stones I have in my studio, waiting to be turned into someone’s favorite piece of jewelry.
Kyanite and silver
Australia is probably most known for its opals. This is a picture I took of the world’s largest opal, called “Olympic Australis”. I did a blog post about opals back in October of 2016.
And I added to my collection the most beautiful opal I think I have ever seen while on vacation. It has not yet been wrapped, but I’ve been looking at it every day, waiting for it to tell me how, exactly, it wants to be shown off. I’m so familiar with it, I’ve come close to naming her…I mean, um, it. And before too long, she'll be my very own piece of custom jewelry...not for sale.
My new opal…I shall name her…Opal.
Wishing you many adventures and opportunities to work on your bucket list!
Until next month,